A pale shade of gray

15 05 2014

This is to be my first of a long line of “No $%W@, it really happened that way” shanty. It was a very hot day, just North of the equator, just west of being the in middle of no where. The Qu’appelle was en route to Ecuador where I would experience my first taste of life in a 2nd world country. It was a Sunday afternoon, we were all just lazing about, thinking about being ashore and doing what sailors do best when we get there <g>.  The CO decided that this was the perfect time to practice our Man Over Board drills so he turned to the Buffer and said “Oscar wants to go swimming”. The Buffer, being a man of sound mind(more or less) replied with a sharp “AYE AYE Sir” and proceeded to pitch the dummy over the side. (please see my post about Flag Oscar Close UP  here https://johncommunicates.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/flag-oscar-close-up/) Now, we have several methods we can use to recover the man in the water. We usually recovered him by lowering a boat and getting him into the boat. The other method is to send the ships diver out with a horse collar. On this particular day, the CO decided that the ships diver – LS Shadid needed some exercise so he had the ship stopped about 200 yards away from the dummy and told the diver to get his butt out there. As we were just about the equator, the sea was dead flat. Everyone could see the dummy just sitting there, waiting to be rescued. Well the ships diver got his horse collar on and over the side he went – that is a 20 foot drop btw, a bit on the freaky side if you ask me. Anyway, even though the diver was going for a swim, we still manned the whaler (28′ wooden hulled boat). This was my first time in this part of the world so I was looking at everything. One thing I did see was someone standing on the bridge wing with a rifle and I thought WTF? I decided that there had to be a legitimate reason for it so I turned my attention to the diver. LS Shadid was the first Palestinian person I had ever seen. He had a very heavy olive complexion. At this point he had just gotten to the man and was getting the horse collar in place for us to haul him back to the ship.  I was something in the water about 100 feet away from him, it was a black point in the water and it seemed to be moving toward Shadid. I did a bit of thinking about Man on the Bridge with a Rifle and Black point moving toward diver. Hmmmm, that point was definitely moving toward the diver, hmmmmm, then the theme from JAWS wandered between my ears and I jumped up and started yelling something about SHARK!!!! Everyone got very excited about that remark and started looking at what I was pointing at, then they all started hauling on the rope to get the diver back on board. The diver was not too happy about this as he started getting a lot of water forced up his nose. It was obvious that he had not seen what I had scene. We could all quiet plainly hear the displeasure of the ships diver as he was hauled toward the ship we no attempt at grace or dignity.  While Shadid was pulled toward the boat, I was watching that fin and it kept going back and forth across the divers wake – each pass a little closer. The people on deck pulled Shadid right up against the hull and strait up the ships side, banging him against it several times in their haste to get him aboard. Once the diver was onboard and on his feet, he started ranting and raving and cussing and yelling until I hollered at him. This caught him by surprise enough that he just looked at me and I pointed down the water where he just was. He followed my finger and looked. IT was about 15 feet long IT was swimming alongside the ship, exactly where we pulled the diver from the water And IT was still  hungry   LS Shadid, a very heavy olive complexion, dressed in his black wet suit. Before he had seen IT, the colour of his skin made it difficult to distinguish between him and the wet suit. After seeing IT, there was no difficulty at all. There was a very unhealthy hue to his complexion. After he had recovered from his little lie down (and changed his knickers) he made a point of ensuring that I was unable to buy any beer for the rest of our trip. And that is how it was

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